What it is: A Blu-ray, DVD, and CD set from Severin Films
1) The 1972 feature film ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, directed by Sergio Martino, on Blu-ray (region A)
2) The CD soundtrack of the film’s score by composer Bruno Nicolai
3) A new, original, feature-length documentary ALL THE COLORS OF GIALLO on Blu-ray (all-region)
4) 80+ trailers of classic giallo films, included on the documentary Blu-ray.
5) A DVD compilation of Krimi trailers (Krimi are noirish German murder mysteries similar to, but predating, Italian giallo films).
6) A CD compilation of theme songs and music-score excerpts from popular giallo films.
Bonus features include interviews with filmmakers and film historians as well as audio commentaries by giallo historian Kat Ellinger. Below I review the individual components.
The movie: ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK is the third giallo in the career of versatile Italian director Sergio Martino (TORSO, THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS). Set in London, the story centers on Jane (Edwige Fenech), a woman beset by bizarre, violent nightmares ever since a car accident claimed the life of her unborn child.
Live-in boyfriend Richard (George Hilton) helpfully insists that taking vitamins will stop the nightmares. Jane’s doctor advises therapy. Jane instead chooses option three, suggested by her mysterious new neighbor, Mary (Marina Malfatti): a black mass. Surprisingly, this black mass does not stop the nightmares, and Jane now finds herself pursued by murderous devil worshippers. As the bodies start to pile up, Jane is forced to ask, “What terrible decision can I make next?”
No one watches giallo films for plot logic. Gialli are about stylish visuals, violent set-pieces, and good-looking people screwing each other in bed and in life. ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK delivers on all counts and is probably Martino’s most visually captivating movie. It’s dreamy, hypnotic, and sometimes jarring, with the camera swooping, tracking, rising, rack focusing, and going into kaleidoscope mode.
My only real critique—which will probably get me into trouble with fans—is the lead character. I adore Edwige Fenech as much as any human does, and her performance is fine. The problem arises in Jane being an unlikable protagonist. From the opening sequence, she’s close to hysteria and stays that way throughout the film. She is, in a word, baroque. At some point you just want her to take a valium and chill the fuck out.
The Blu-ray: Severin did a nice job on the scan. Yeah, it’s grainy in spots, but unless JJ Abrams is enough of a fan to restore every frame of a movie, low-budget flicks from the 1970s are going to show grain when presented in HD. The important thing is color saturation. It’s called ALL THE COLORS IN THE DARK for a reason, and those colors tend toward vibrant greens and rich purples.
The documentary: ALL THE COLORS OF GIALLO, mostly in Italian with English subtitles, gets more interesting as it goes along. The first half covers now-familiar territory for fans, from the yellow-covered detective novels that gave the genre its name, to Mario Bava’s establishing entries, to Argento’s global impact. If you’re willing to drop $30 on a Blu-ray documentary about giallo films, you already know this stuff inside and out. Fortunately, the second half gets much more interesting as they dig into the works of other filmmakers and bring out directors Martino, Luciano Ercoli, and Umberto Lenzi, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, and giallo stars Barbara Bouchet, George Hilton, and Susan Scott for on-camera interviews (using archival footage of those who are no longer with us). There’s also an audio recording of Lucio Fulci shit-talking Dario Argento, which is worth the price alone.
4 hours of giallo trailers: “4 hours of trailers” kinda sells itself, doesn’t it? I’m a trailer-comp junkie, so Severin didn’t even need the other content to get my $$.
The CDs: Picture a place where romantic orchestral music, progressive rock, and jazz co-exist in weird, fantastical harmony. Seriously, Severin, just release some best-of giallo composer CDs. They will sell.
The DVD: Didn’t watch it.
Star rating: Do I seem like someone who would do star ratings? Get outta here with that.
Note: I purchased all of the above in a limited-edition set inside a slipcase (see lead image), but the movie and its soundtrack can be purchased separately from the documentary, trailer compilations, and various-composers CD on Severin’s website, Amazon, and Diabolik DVD. Please be advised that some or all of the bonus content described above may be limited-run offerings. Visit Severin’s site for details.